Councillors voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the reconstruction of Huddersfield’s historic George Hotel.
Plans for the £20 million restoration will see the two side wings of the hotel demolished and rebuilt.
The new-look George Hotel will become a 91-bedroom upmarket boutique hotel operated by Radisson RED. The building itself will remain in the ownership of Kirklees Council.
The exterior of the building has undergone extensive repair and is now wind and watertight.
Demolition of the two wings – one facing Huddersfield Railway Station and the other John William Street – were said to be necessary to ensure there were enough bedrooms to make the hotel viable.
Though the hotel building is grade II-listed the wing facing the station was removed from the listing last year due to its deemed poor design. That will be taken down completely but the frontage along John William Street will remain.
The council and its consultants had worked closely with Historic England which was firmly in support of the plans.
The hotel closed in 2013 and the derelict building was bought by Kirklees Council in March 2020. The hotel was the birthplace of rugby league in 1895 and the council won a bid to house the national rugby league museum within the hotel. When this proved unviable the council pulled out of the agreement.
Under the plans, the ground floor of the hotel will house a reception lobby, lounge and a 70-seat restaurant and bar. There will also be a large conference-style room for hire and the lower ground floor will provide a 100-cover banqueting suite for business events, receptions and weddings.
At a meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee Clr Andrew Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said he was “very impressed” after a visit to the site but asked for assurances that all the current stonework was safe.
Clr Mark Thompson (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) described the hotel as a “beautiful building” but said it had proved a “money pit” for the council in the past and added: “I hope all the costings have been worked out and that it will be delivered on time.”
Clr Carole Pattison (Lab, Greenhead) said she believed that the stonework which looked damage was safe and said the work the council was having to put right now was down to “shoddy Victorian builders.”
She added: “We need this new building to breathe new life into the town centre. We have been sorely missing hotel accommodation for many years.”
After councillors voted unanimously in favour, council leader Clr Shabir Pandor said: “Today is a significant milestone for the George Hotel and we’re delighted to have secured an exciting and long-term future for it.
“Huddersfield town centre has long needed a high-quality hotel and Radisson RED is a stand-out international hotel brand known for its eye-catching style and excellent customer service.
“Alongside our wider Huddersfield Blueprint plans and our Cultural Heart, the George will act as an impressive gateway to the town centre and continue to grow our profile as an attractive destination for tourism and business.”
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for regeneration, added: “Our goal from the outset has been to do this historic building justice, not just as a key part of Huddersfield’s heritage but also as a major economic driver in the town.
“This is a hugely exciting project. We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that, in delivering these plans, we’ll now be working with the best possible range of contractors to achieve our vision – reopening the hotel as an amazing new establishment with international hotel operators Radisson RED.”
Adela Cristea, vice president, business development UK & Ireland at Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We’re proud to build on the success of Radisson RED and continue its UK expansion with this impressive project.
“We’re delighted to partner with Kirklees Council and bring a new chapter to one of Huddersfield’s most iconic buildings by introducing the bold and vibrant brand to the town.”
Kirklees Council have now appointed Morgan Sindall in a pre-contract service agreement and they will be working on further designs for the building work over the coming months.
The council have also appointed Queensberry as the project’s development manager and Bowman Riley are the architect and heritage advisor.
Ben Hall, Yorkshire area director for Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “We’re thrilled to have been appointed to work on what will be a significant new addition to the town.
“Our business has strong local connections with Huddersfield having completed many projects here over the years, and we look forward to helping to grow the local economy and bring a skills boost to the area through our work on this fabulous new hotel.”
Andrew Davison, project director at Queensberry, said: “The Radisson brand is a very fitting custodian to maintain this wonderful asset and we’re sure both locals and visitors to Huddersfield will enjoy it.”
Queensbury has previously said that construction work could start in September 2023 with the hotel opening in spring/summer 2025.